Sibiu Summit and Strategic Agenda for 2019-2024
The Informal Summit in Sibiu on 9 May gave an opportunity for final reflections on the future of Europe before concluding the institutional cycle 2014-2019. The Summit produced the Sibiu Declaration which, after referring to the main historic achievements of the European Union and reaffirming the importance of unity to foster strength, recognised the ‘European perspective’ of other European States and agreed on ten commitments, including: unity, the protection of our lifestyles, democracy and the rule of law, one Europe “big on big matters”, support for the principle of equity, safeguarding the future for the next generations of Europeans, the protection of citizens and Europe as a global leader.
In view of the start of the new institutional cycle 2019-2024 with the European elections of 23-26 May, the new EU priorities began to be drawn up in Sibiu, to be included in the Strategic Agenda 2019-2024, approved by the European Council on 20-21 June. The Strategic Agenda indicates four macro-areas of action, each with a series of priorities: 1) protecting citizens and freedoms; 2) developing a strong and vibrant economic base; 3) building a climate-neutral, green, fair and social Europe; 4) promoting European interests and values on the global scene.
European elections May 2019
There was a higher turnout at the European elections than in the past, and the elections introduced new elements in European equilibrium, both within the hemicycle - especially with the end of the traditional dominance of the European People’s Party and the Socialist and Democrat political groups, and the success of the Liberals and the Greens as emerging forces - and, as a result, in the election process of the new heads of EU institutions.
Process to fill top EU positions
Following the negotiations which began immediately after the announcement of the results of the European elections, on the eve of the first plenary session of the new European Parliament, the Extraordinary Summit of 30 June, 1 and 2 July confirmed the agreement of EU Leaders on a “package” of appointments to fill the top EU positions (President of the Commission, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, President of the European Council and President of the European Central Bank).
At the moment, the conclusion of the appointment procedure for the new European Commission is still pending: it was due to take office on 1 November. Following a delay in the hearings of a number of candidate Commissioners before the competent European Parliamentary Committees, the date the new College will take office has been moved back, with a concurrent delay in the date the outgoing Commission will leave office so it can deal with current matters. At the end of the hearings, the President-elect of the Commission will present the new College to the European Parliament along with its agenda. After the debate, the entire Commission, including the President and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will have to be elected by a majority of the members of Parliament for the subsequent formal appointment by a qualified majority by the European Council.
Recent Brexit developments also influenced the formation of the new Commission. With a further delay to 31 January 2020 of the date at which the United Kingdom will leave the European Union, decided last 29 October, the United Kingdom undertook to appoint a Commissioner from the United Kingdom to ensure compliance with EU provisions requiring each Member State to be represented on the College.